My 2017 in review

What a year, huh? We made it, though. 2018 began this morning and so far it’s off to a cold start here in Indiana. I liked the 2016 year in review that I wrote, so I thought I’d make it a annual tradition. Let’s look back and see how things went.

I made a public resolution for 2017, which is not something I normally do. I resolved to read articles before sharing them. That seems like a pretty low bar to clear, but let’s be honest with ourselves: it’s really easy to share things that sound good without reading them. I can’t swear that I fully kept this resolution, but I think I did pretty well with it. If nothing else, there were a few articles that seemed good but didn’t stand up to a skeptical reading. I’ll keep doing this in 2018 and hope that it catches on. We’d all be better off.

I also set a goal of writing 150 articles in 2017 (not counting anything I wrote for work). I fell short of that mark, but I still wrote more than I did in 2016. I finished the year with 122 articles compared to the 101 I wrote last year. The quality and length of the content varied. Some of them were basically “here’s a list of links from stuff I wrote last month.” Others were thousand-plus word articles on topics related to high performance computing. I’m going to aim for 120 articles in 2018, with the hope of keeping a steadier pace.

Chart of article publication pace for 2016 and 2017

My article publication pace for 2016 and 2017. Note the flurry of activity early in 2017 when the pace flirted with 200 articles, followed by the long slide to 122 in the second half of the year.

I started a newsletter this year. I blather on for a paragraph or two and then I share links to things I liked on the Internet that week. People who scroll to the bottom also see links to articles I curated and wrote. I consider it a success because 1. I’ve consistently published every week for several months and 2. more than zero people read it every month. The road to being a Thought Leader™ is long.

Blog Fiasco

This blog had what I would call a mixed year. I published 87 posts compared to 2016’s 78, but views were down about 30%. The number of visitors only fell about 20%. It’s a good thing I’m not writing this to become famous or make money. Nonetheless, I got about 3% of my views from Reddit and Hacker News, so I’m not entirely ignored. I still don’t do anything to promote my blog beyond my social media accounts and my newsletter. Any uptick in traffic is because people felt something I wrote was worth sharing, not because I’m a marketing genius.

Top 10 articles in 2017

These are the top Blog Fiasco articles in 2017, along with their 2016 rank.

  1. Solving the CUPS “hpcups failed” error (1)
  2. New to Fedora: WordGrinder (published in 2017)
  3. elementary misses the point (7)
  4. Hints for using HTCondor’s credd and condor_store_cred (8)
  5. When your HP PSC 1200 All-in-One won’t print (3)
  6. I have a new employer (published in 2017)
  7. Reading is a basic tool in the living of a good life (2)
  8. HP laptop keyboard won’t type on Linux (published in 2017)
  9. Disappearing WiFi with rt2800pci (unranked)
  10. Accessing Taleo from Mac or Linux (5)

I published that CUPS post in 2010 and it has consistently been my most-visited article. It is trending downward, though. It averaged 5 views a day in 2015, 4 in 2016, and 2 this year. This may be because Google’s algorithm de-weights posts as they age (it probably does), but I’d also like to think it has something to do with CUPS being more reliable than ever before.​

Top 10 articles published in 2017

Here are the top 10 Blog Fiasco articles that I published in 2017.

  1. New to Fedora: WordGrinder
  2. I have a new employer
  3. HP laptop keyboard won’t type on Linux
  4. Conference talks: “how” versus “why”
  5. Maybe your tech conference needs less tech
  6. Drowning from the firehose
  7. Your crappy UI could be lethal
  8. Please don’t argue with the warning system
  9. Why HTCondor is a pretty awesome scheduler
  10. Taking action on commit messages

On a personal note

Last year, I made vague allusions to some personal ups and downs but said I thought things were trending upward. I’d say that forecast verified. Despite what’s gone on in the outside world, things here have improved. And you should see the new deck we had built! As you may have noticed in the top 10 lists above, I got a new employer this year. It got off to a pretty rough start, but things have improved.

I’m looking forward to 2018. I have a few projects that I hope to make happen. As much as things have changed in the last year, it feels like I’m still on the cusp of something big. Or not!

If nothing else, I’m proud of myself for continuing to do this after so many years. I don’t think what I’ve written here is particularly wonderful, but I’ve published over 650 posts on this blog in the last decade. That’s something.

Potential Tropical Cyclone Nine Forecast Contest

Hear ye! Hear ye! I’ve opened up the Tropical Forecast Game for Potential Tropical Cycle Nine. Forecasts are due by 8 PM EDT Friday.

Chances are very good that this storm will be named later today. I’ll keep the “nine” appellation until after the contest closes to avoid any confusion. (Yes, the code is old and crusty so the name matters).

Other writing in April 2017

Where have I been writing when I haven’t been writing here? If you don’t want to wait for these monthly summaries, subscribe to my weekly newsletter!

Opensource.com

Over on Opensource.com, we had our 7th consecutive million-page-view month. I’m not going to bother mentioning this anymore. I wrote the articles below.

  • Haters gonna hate: 7 ways to deal with criticism – Jason van Gumster and I wrote this Taylor Swift-themed article about dealing with haters when you share your work. One commenter even turned it into a live demo.
  • Creative Commons: 1.2 billion strong and growing – Creative Commons released their annual “State of the Commons” report this week. More and more works use those licenses, and there’s some really interesting projects (like a human skull-shaped 3D-printable candy dish).

Cycle Computing

Meanwhile, I wrote or edited a few things for work, too:

Assorted site updates, plus a newsletter

Have you noticed a cool new logo on Funnel Fiasco lately? Thanks to Susan at Sumy Designs, I have a professional-looking logo instead of the hot garbage I did in MS Paint 10 years ago. I’m pretty pleased by it. To celebrate, I’m also announcing my newsletter. Newsletter Fiasco is my attempt to be like all of my cool friends who have a newsletter. I’ll be sending out out once a week or so with links to stuff I’ve written, stuff I’ve liked, and some thoughts about whatever it is I’m thinking about.

In addition to the logo, there are a few other changes to the site:

Other writing in February 2017

Where have I been writing when I haven’t been writing here?

The Next Platform

I’m freelancing for The Next Platform as a contributing author. Here are the articles I wrote last month:

Opensource.com

Over on Opensource.com, we managed our 5th consecutive million-page-view month, despite the short month. I wrote the articles below.

Also, the 2016 Open Source Yearbook is now available. You can get a free PDF download now or buy the print version at cost. Or you can do both!

Cycle Computing

Meanwhile, I wrote or edited a few things for work, too:

  • HyperXite case study – The HyperXite team used CycleCloud software to run simulations for their hyperloop pod.
  • ALS research case study – A professor at the University of Arizona quickly simulate a million compounds as part of a search for pharmacological treatment for Lou Gerhig’s disease.
  • Transforming enterprise workloads – A brief look at how some of our customers transform their businesses by using cloud computing.
  • LAMMPS scaling on Microsoft Azure – My coworkers did some benchmarking of the InfiniBand interconnect on Microsoft Azure. I just wrote about it.
  • Various ghost-written pieces. I’ll never tell which ones!

Moderators’ Choice Award

As regular readers are aware, I am a Community Moderator for Opensource.com. This involves writing and recruiting content, tending to comments, and the like. On Wednesday, I learned that my fellow moderators selected me to receive this year’s Moderators’ Choice Award.

I struggle to find the words to express how honored I am. The Community Moderator team is incredible, not only in terms of their knowledge and writing ability, but as people. It’s a privilege to be counted among them. That they selected me for recognition is unbelievable. From my perspective, it’s all I can do to keep up.

I know this sounds way overdone, but it is fully sincere. It’s truly a pleasure to work with the team, including the Red Hat staff and the community at large. This is a great way to start the year, and I’m really looking forward to continuing my contributions.

Congratulations to all of the other community award winners this year. The community is what makes the site great.

Other writing in January 2017

Where have I been writing when I haven’t been writing here?

The Next Platform

I’m freelancing for The Next Platform as a contributing author. Here are the articles I wrote last month:

Opensource.com

Over on Opensource.com, we had our fourth consecutive month with a milion-plus page views and set a record with 1,122,064. I wrote the articles below.

Also, the 2016 Open Source Yearbook is now available. You can get a free PDF download now or wait for the print version to become available. Or you can do both!

Cycle Computing

Meanwhile, I wrote or edited a few things for work, too:

  • Use AWS EBS Snapshots to speed instance setup — Staging reference data can be a time-expensive operation. This post describes one way we cut tens of minutes off of time for a cancer research workload.
  • Various ghost-written pieces. I’ll never tell which ones!

Posts not sharing to social media

Once upon a time, I artisinally hand-crafted my social media shares. Then I installed the Jetpack plugin for WordPress which handles publicizing to social media for me. Doing it myself suddenly sounded like a lot of work, so I decided not to. Since then, Jetpack has dutifully shared to Twitter, Google+, and LinkedIn whenever I publish a new post.

This has worked out pretty well for me. Most of the meager traffic I get on the day of a new post comes from Twitter, with a few from Google+, and the occasional LinkedIn post. (Don’t you people use RSS readers anymore?) Until earlier this month when suddenly I noticed my new posts weren’t hitting Twitter.

There were no obvious indications about what when wrong, but I did notice that it seemed to roughly coincide with applying a few updates. I started playing around a little bit. All of my posts recently have been scheduled, so I wondered if immediate publication would trigger the publicize feature. Sure enough, it did. (As an aside, at least one person was quick enough to see that tweet and click the link in the brief moment between when I deleted the post and when I deleted the tweet).

Armed with the knowledge that it was only a scheduled post issue, I turned to Google for answers. Pretty quickly I found a WordPress forum thread that seemed to be about the same issue. It had a link to a GitHub pull request for Jetpack that fixed the issue.

Normally, I’d wait for a new release, but this was really hurting my personal brand. So I applied the patch by hand to my install. And that’s how my scheduled posts started hitting social media channels again. If you have a WordPress installation that won’t share, give that patch a try.

I apologize if you missed any of my “terrific” content. It’s all still there for you to read.

My 2016 in review

Well 2016 is over. Looking back on the previous year seems to be the in thing to do around now, and it sure beats coming up with original content, so let’s take a look at the past year.

Between this blog, Opensource.com, and The Next Platform, I published 102 articles in 2016. That doesn’t count blog posts, conference papers, marketing materials, and other things I wrote for work. Writing has certainly claimed a central part of my life, and I like that.

In 2016, I got to see my articles in print (thanks to the Open Source Yearkbook). I started getting paid to contribute (I was even recruited for the role, which is a great stroke to my ego). I presented talks at two conferences, chair sessions at two others (including one where I was the co-chair of the Invited Talks). My writing has given me the opportunity to meet and befriend some really awesome people. And of course, it has helped raised my own profile.

Blog Fiasco

Blog Fiasco had what is probably its best year in 2016. I was able to keep to my Monday/Friday posting schedule for much of the year. Only in May — when I was traveling extensively — did I have an extended stale period. I only published 78 articles here compared to 99 in 2015, but I also have done more writing outside of this blog. With just over 8,000 views in 2016, traffic is up by about 5%. As a matter of contrast, my Opensource.com article on a bill working its way through the New York Senate had more views than all of Blog Fiasco.

Top 10 articles in 2016

These are the top Blog Fiasco articles in 2016

  1. Solving the CUPS “hpcups failed” error
  2. Reading is a basic tool in the living of a good life
  3. When your HP PSC 1200 All-in-One won’t print
  4. Fedora 24 upgrade
  5. Accessing Taleo from Mac or Linux
  6. A wrinkle with writing your resume in Markdown
  7. elementary misses the point
  8. Hints for using HTCondor’s credd and condor_store_cred
  9. Book review: The Visible Ops Handbook
  10. What do you want in a manager?

Top articles published in 2016

Here are the top 10 Blog Fiasco articles that I published in 2016.

  1. Fedora 24 upgrade
  2. Hints for using HTCondor’s credd and condor_store_cred
  3. What do you want in a manager?
  4. Product review: Divoom AuraBox
  5. A culture of overwork
  6. Disappearing WiFi with rt2800pci
  7. mPING and charging for free labor
  8. What3Words as a password generator
  9. My new year’s resolution
  10. left-pad exposed the real problem

So 2017 then?

I’m pleased to see that a few of my troubleshooting articles have had such a long and healthy life. I’m not sure what it means that the article I published on December 30th was the ninth-most viewed article of the year, but it certainly says something. This blog has never really been for anyone’s benefit but my own, as evidenced by the near-zero effort I’ve put into publicizing articles. In part due to having other, audience-established outlets for writing, Blog Fiasco has become a bit of a dumping ground for opinions and articles that don’t really fit on “real” sites. I’m okay with that.

Will I put more effort into promoting content in 2017? We’ll see. I think I’d rather spend that time writing in places that already have visibility. The monthly “where have I been writing when I haven’t been writing here?” posts will make it easy to find my work that doesn’t end up here.

On a personal note

Outside of my writing, 2016 has been a year. Lots of famous people died. Closer to home, it was a year with a lot of ups and downs. My own perception is that it was more down than up, but I think 2017 is heading in the right direction again. I’ll let you know in early 2018.

Professionally, I’ve changed positions. I left an operations management (but really, operations doing-ment) role to do technical marketing and evangelism. It was an unexpected change, but a hard-to-pass-up opportunity. I don’t regret the decision, except that it has changed what I thought my career trajectory was, and I haven’t yet figured out if I want to curve back that way at some point or if I want to continue down this (or another) path. I know better than to make specific plans, but I take comfort in having a vague target in mind.

And then of course, there’s stuff going on in the world at large. I try to avoid politics on this blog, but I’ll take a moment to say that the next few years are shaping up to be “interesting”. I have a lot of concerns about social and environmental protections that may cease to exist. Nationalist movements in the U.S. and Europe are gaining steam. I know that even if things get as bad as some fear, society will eventually recover (depending on what happens with climate change, “eventually” could be pretty long), but I also know that for some people it will really suck.

Whatever 2017 brings, I wish you health, happiness, and success, dear readers.